Taxpayer Beware: As Cities Compete for Amazon’s New Headquarters or HQ2, Hundreds Face Layoffs At Seattle Headquarters and Elsewhere

Amazon, the second largest employer in the United States at 566,000, will be laying off several hundred workers at the Seattle location, and hundreds more at other locations all over the US.

Image: Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

Amazon’s layoffs or “restructuring” as they call it are attributed to budget cuts, this as its CEO Jeff Bezos, became the richest man in the world less than 3 months ago according to Forbes.  “Amazon has a problem right now with overpopulation,” said one engineer at the company, another manager said when asked about the current atmosphere, “People are in terrible shape, there is so much stress on campus.”

200 cities signed up to become home to the new headquarters or HQ2, and that number has been whittled down to 20. The “winner” if you can call it that, will be announced sometime this year.  Why the richest man in the world, who is the CEO of the 2nd largest company in the US, needs taxpayers to help build him a headquarters baffles my mind. But in the city of Atlanta, where teachers have been asked to go on furlough, while at the same time spending hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to build two sports stadiums, tax cuts to people who don’t need the money almost makes perfect sense.

This trend has been going on for about 4 decades or so where businessmen have been letting local governments compete against each other by offering tax concessions, even building roads and other infrastructure just to suit a business.  An analysis by the Economic Policy Institute found no evidence that either overall employment, or tax revenue increased for counties that landed fulfillment centers for Amazon. They even found that in some instances, tax revenue and employment got worse. The study found that in the instances where things got worse, the local governments were forced to raise taxes to offset the spending to lure Amazon and the resources the counties used to build the infrastructure were offset by any jobs created by the giant, netting at best a zero sum.

Mayors and city leaders can be very short sighted though, and by the time the receipts are in they are usually long gone, off to a senate run or governorship. Amazon’s success can be attributed to the fact that it was ahead of the tax laws for many years and did not have to pay a sales tax like its competitors.  Taxes are not a punishment as some want you to believe, it is the tax dollars that funds schools, roads, emergency services, parks, and many other vital services for a community. Amazon basically built its business off taxpayers’s backs and is now asking those same taxpayers for more money to make its top management even richer.

While people protest in front of the headquarters in Seattle, other cities line up for the opportunity to get their piece of Amazon and if they are lucky, they will get passed over for another sucker.


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